Monday, March 3, 2008

Feed Me

I'm hungry. I've been hungry all week. Even after a decent-sized meal, my stomach growls saying, "Feeeeeeed Meeeeeee. Feeeeeeed Meeeeeeeee." It's a mildly painful and miserable feeling to be hungry after you've just eaten. I mean, really I just want the hunger to go away. It's difficult to ignore sometimes, but I can't give into it.

I was recently asked to write an essay as part of a challenge for the weight loss program. Here are a few paragraphs of what I wrote:

For me, food has always been a form of celebration. So many wonderful memories are sparked when I recall the sounds, smells and events involved with good food. (And believe me; I consider most food to be “good.”) Whether it’s gathering around my grandmother’s table with the whole family, attending a fellowship pot-luck at church, or sharing a special occasion at a nice restaurant, food somehow finds its way into every significant, and not-so significant, moment in my life. In my opinion, a good meal mixed with good company is the perfect recipe for happiness. And in my case, it also became the recipe for gaining weight.

I knew I was getting fat, but where and when did it happen? It wasn’t an easy diagnosis. For several years I ignored the fact that I was adding pounds. I gained the majority of my weight during college when unhealthy, cheap food (namely Wendy’s) was readily available for a student on the go. Stopping by Waffle House or Krystal was the perfect way to end a night out with friends. I was no stranger to scattered, smothered, covered and topped. One word comes to mind while reflecting on this period of my life: Overindulgence. If it was cheap, fast, hot and cheesy then I was going to find some way to eat it. Even though I knew my eating habits were terribly unhealthy, I felt strangely entitled to this lifestyle. What college student has the money or time to prepare fresh healthy meals? I sure didn’t know any. And why should I be any different? This attitude was detrimental, and it was quite some time before I realized the consequences of my actions.

As the weight came on, I found myself buying bigger clothes until I reached the largest available size in the Misses department. When size 16 started to get snug, shopping for clothes became a huge ordeal. I was now restricted to shopping in the Plus Size stores which was a dreadful experience. While I was too big for “normal” clothes, I found that I was too small for the plus sized clothes. I was in the midst of Clothing Purgatory where nothing fit my body. NOTHING.Every outfit I bought was ill-fitting and unflattering. The fact that I was so uncomfortable in my clothes kept me from enjoying social activities. Choosing an outfit for a dinner date with friends would send me into depression before I ever left the house, keeping me in a sour mood for the rest of the night. I continued going out with my friends, but there was always an underlying sense of embarrassment that kept me from being completely happy.

Unfortunately, my new plus sized body wasn’t enough of a wake up call for me. Instead, I would get angry at the clothing companies for failing to suit my overweight frame. “I’m not that big!” I would say. “Haven’t they seen curves before? Can’t they just make this shirt one size bigger so I can wear it?” Friends and family would make comments such as, “You’re tall and you carry your weight well.” While they meant well, these statements only enabled me to continue ignoring my problem. When my doctor warned me that I was pre-obese, I thought, “I don’t look like those people. They’re so much fatter than me. She’s can’t be right about that!” But she was right. What I failed to realize was that I was harming my body by continuing my bad habits. My day-to-day life included zero exercise and I ate anything I wanted regardless of how unhealthy it was. Oh sure, I would eat healthy food on occasion. I’d be so proud of myself if I chose a salad instead of a steak. “Look at me, everyone! I’m such a healthy eater!” But that couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Those handfuls of times when I made a good choice didn’t even begin to make a dent. I needed a complete body overhaul, and one salad just won’t do it – not for me, and not for anyone. It was difficult for me to face the fact that my weight was a direct result of my bad choices. While I wasn’t technically obese, I was on an extremely unhealthy path that would’ve inevitably led to obesity.

Obesity scared me. I couldn’t believe that I reached the point where my health was becoming a medical concern all because of my weight. For the first time in years, I finally started to think about the kinds of food I was putting into my body and the real effect it had on me. But there’s a big gap between thinking and doing. Change wasn’t instant. Part of my struggle came from the fact that I simply accepted my fate as a fat person. I thought, “Hey, it’s in my genes! There’s nothing I can do about it.” I’ve always been a larger person, and I come from a large family. Even in my younger years when I was actually a healthy weight, I still referred to myself as “fat” because I was bigger than everyone my age. Not necessarily fatter, just bigger. I had a terrible body image growing up. I was accustomed to feeling fat and frumpy, so when it finally happened to me, I just accepted it. Was I happy with my new fat body? Certainly not. But I felt extremely helpless, as though something had done this to me, and there was nothing I could do to change it. “This is just the way God made me. I’m just a big girl,” I’d say. Looking back I realize that all these thoughts of helplessness were just my way of avoiding responsibility. I saw other people – friends, family, co-workers – enjoying all kinds of foods with a carefree attitude, and I wanted to do the same. If no one else had to worry about their weight, then why should I?

The build-up was a slow process, but eventually something clicked with me. I realized that I needed to stop comparing myself to other people, and instead focus on myself alone. This problem was now about my weight, my body, and my choices. Some people can enjoy unhealthy foods and get away with it, but I’m not one of those people. It was time for some real change, and I needed to find a successful way to get healthy. Knowing that I wanted to make changes, my mom bought me a gym membership for Christmas. It was, without a doubt, a gift that changed my life forever. I slowly but surely started visiting the gym on a regular basis. It took a while to form a routine that fit my lifestyle, but over time it became second nature to pick up the gym bag on my way out the door. Today I can’t imagine going back to a life without exercise. It’s given me so much more energy and strength along with the self confidence that comes from losing weight. I’m proud of myself for finally learning to take care of my body. I’ll always be tempted by food, but I will strive to continue making healthy choices. -- THE END.

So tonight is our weekly weigh-in at the gym and I'm really hoping to have lost 2 lbs. So far I haven't lost more than 1 pound a week which is extremely discouraging considering how much I work out. I did just okay with my eating this weekend. It could've been better, but I found myself at the Bound'ry with Sean and his friend Kenneth on Friday night. We ordered up several plates of delicious tapas and there's no telling how many calories we consumed between the oysters, foie gras, Korean BBQ wraps, cheese and meat tray, duck breast, sushi rolls, etc.... I was proud of myself for only having 1 glass of wine with dinner and for skipping dessert, but that may not have been enough to get me to 2 lbs. We'll see...

This past weekend was absolutely beautiful. I could definitely use some more of this weather to get me out of the winter funk. I really hate winter. We got a small glimpse of the Spring to come -- 75 degrees, sunny, and NO HUMIDITY. Sean and I enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine by working in the yard on Sunday. We cleaned out the flower beds and Sean climbed on the roof to tackle some of our clogged gutters. I couldn't believe how much dirt came out of those things! Today is the last day of nice weather as the temperature is supposed to drop considerably over the next few days. I'm not so excited for the upcoming weekend - High of 35? YUCK! Looks like the yard work will have to be postponed.

And finally, yesterday was my very first attempt at roasting a chicken. I'm not sure why, but I've always been very intimidated by the thought of roasting a bird at home. I was surprised at how easy it was, and I was really pleased with the final result!

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